I’ve been busy lately. Some not-so-good stuff is happening, but we are trusting God to work it all out. Maybe it will all work out for the best, in the end, by bringing a sense of ‘closure’. Maybe. Whatever happens, may it be for God’s glory.
Moving on… I took my non-Christian mother to Scargill House in the Yorkshire Dales for the weekend. It is a Christian community living out ‘new monasticism’ (not as weird as it sounds). All are welcome, and all are allowed to simply be themselves. No one is told what to say, or do, or believe. And that makes it all the more powerful, because when egos are left out, God is able to speak.
I wrote a while ago in a post entitled ‘The Upside Down Kingdom’
questioning why we don’t always see gentleness as a quality evident in our Christian leaders – yet I would say that the leaders I have met at Scargill all display gentleness. Interestingly. My mum left not having had a Damascus-like conversion experience, but definitely with a sense of peace that she had not had before she arrived. God is good.
I had a marvellous conversation with the chaplain, and although it didn’t answer any questions, it certainly made me think in ways I had not before (there are a dozen blog posts I could write as the result of that conversation!).
Twice in the last week (including once at Scargill) I have been in situations where we sung the old favourite ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’. It was written as a poem by a man called John Greenleaf Whittier, a 19th century Quaker. A poem of his was also read at the Scargill weekend and I began thinking about the beautiful, thoughtful words of the well-known hymn. Sometimes when things are so well known, and with such beautiful lyrics, we don’t fully consider what the words mean.
- ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
- Forgive our foolish ways!
- Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
- In purer lives Thy service find,
- In deeper reverence, praise.’
- God is our Father as well as our Lord. He is our Daddy. The idea of God as Daddy was introduced by Jesus. And it was revolutionary.
- Here is the radical Jesus. He doesn’t fit into our neat little boxes.
- Before Jesus, no one had ever considered that God could be so close, so present, so capable of having a relationship with us mere (fallen) humans, as to be considered ‘Daddy’ (the Greek word used in the New Testament is ‘Abba’, which translates best as ‘Daddy’, though it is usually rendered ‘Father’).
- The next lines echo the verse from Romans 12:2 ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’
- This transformation of mind is something which I have been seeking over many years. It is a journey, a process. But this renewing of mind is the only way I have overcome my battles, my past hurts. It happens by the meeting of my will with God’s (which undoubtedly takes will on my part – though this is far exceeded by grace) gradually weeding out all the bad bits, until one day, when I make my way home, only God is left. For now, I know that God loves me. And I know that He will never let go. In the words of Julian of Norwich
- ‘What is he indeed that is maker and lover and keeper? I cannot find words to tell. For until I am one with him I can never have true rest nor peace. I can never know it until I am held so close to Him that there is nothing in between.’
- I feel a hallelujah coming on… 😉